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CMS, Trump Administration Expect Decreased MA Premiums in 2020

As Medicare open enrollment approaches, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Trump administration announced in a press release that on average, 2020 premiums for Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollees are expected to be 23% lower than those in 2018, but still maintain increased choices and benefits.

Despite increased enrollment, the expected lower MA premiums would be the lowest enrollees have seen in 13 years.

“That is what CMS has been delivering with its improvements to Medicare Advantage: lower costs, more options, and benefits tailored to patients’
needs,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “This proven record of success—decreasing premiums in both Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D—contrasts
with proposals for a total government takeover of healthcare, which would destroy options such as Medicare Advantage that seniors increasingly choose.”

CMS also announced a number of benefit and costing-sharing information for MA and Part D prescription plans for 2020. According to the press release, highlights include:

  • MA average monthly plan premium is expected to decrease 14% to $23 (estimated) in 2020 from an average of $26.87 in 2019.
  • There will be approximately 1200 more MA plans operating in 2020 compared to 2018.
  • Enrollment is projected to be 24.4 million, a full 2 million above the the currently enrolled 22.2 million.

The agency previously shared that Part D enrollees had a 13.5% decline in monthly basic premiums, saving an estimated $2.65 billion in MA and Part D premium costs since 2017. CMS said that premiums in 2020 should average $30 monthly.

“The continued decline in Medicare Advantage and Part D premiums over the past three years is estimated to save taxpayers nearly $6 billion in the form of lower Medicare premium subsidies,” explained the CMS press release.

Also in the press release, CMS Administrator Seema Verma cautions that some of the recently proposed health plans—such as Medicare-for-All or a public option—could come as a detriment to the progress made in lowering costs and increasing access for seniors enrolled in MA and Part D.

Some of the efforts Ms Verma referred to include the streamlined government review process for marketing materials, making it easier for potential enrollees to learn about options, expanding opportunities for choice and supplemental benefits, and providing both clinicians and patients with information about more cost-effective treatment plans.—Edan Stanley

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